Bored? Here are 17 Internet of Things Project Ideas

Makers gonna make. In this article, explore 17 Internet of Things project ideas. Build an automated pet feeder, facial recognition system, and more! Read the full article for some "smart" IoT hacks.

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Having a hard time coming up with Internet of Things project ideas to feed your maker appetite?

You finally have a few hours to crank out a new project, but then 20 minutes have passed and you’re still staring at Instructables, Hackster, or the myriad of technical project sites.

Analysis paralysis hits and you’re stuck.

Fortunately, I’ve compiled a list of the coolest project ideas for your next creative burst. I sorted through the most popular projects and found Internet of Things project ideas (categorized by project type) that are sure to keep you busy for the next few weeks.

Ready to start making?

Home Automation for Smart Homes

The most popular use case for IoT projects is to make our homes smarter.

Wouldn’t it be cool to walk to your front door and have it automatically open because it recognizes your face? How about having a universal system that talks to every smart device you own?

Give these projects a try, and add some tech around your home.

1. Add a Smart Door Lock. Retrofit an existing door lock with a smart mechanism and controller. Or, replace your lock with a smart door mechanism. Here’s an example.

2. Facial Recognition for Automated Door. Rather than use a smartphone or RFID card, use facial recognition to automatically open your front door.

3. Build a Raspberry Pi Home Automation Center. Use a smart home platform like Home Assistant to aggregate all of your custom and commercial “smart” devices. View the getting started guide.

4. Expand upon commercial devices with Arduino. Platforms like Node-RED and MQTT are good for combining Arduino controllers with Philips Hue.

5. PIR Motion Detector using an ESP8266. Make a PIR motion detector to automatically trigger smart lights when you walk into a room. Try this project.

6. Retrofit your garage opener with IFTTT and Alexa. Why use an outdated garage clicker, when you can ask Alexa to open and close your garage. Here’s how.

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Fun IoT Gadgets to Make

If you’re looking for a way to develop a custom device or engineer a unique solution, you’ll want to try these IoT gadgets.

7. Advanced Weather Station. Get real-time weather information without any sensors. View the project here

8. Automated Watering System. Sure, you can put your sprinklers and garden watering system on a timer, but why not get real-time monitoring and control?

9. Have your garden “tweet” status updates. Set up a twitter account for your garden and always keep track of how they’re doing, from anywhere. Give this project a try.

10. Feed your pets from anywhere. Travel a lot? Check-in on your pets and feed them from anywhere with a connected pet feeder. Build this project in a few hours.

11. Strengthen your (Long-Distance) relationship with IoT. If you can’t be with your significant other in person, then make them this connected lamp. When you press the button, it’ll connect to the remote LED lamp and glow.

Hack an Existing Device with IoT

These projects focus on taking an existing thing and giving it “smart” superpowers. Reuse or repurpose old devices by connecting them to the internet!

12. Add voice control to an Arduino device. Use IFTTT webhooks to add voice control to just about any connected device. Try it out, yourself.

13. Prototype an Industrial IoT System. Collect data to monitor manufacturing machines and improve production output. Optimize your business processes.

14. Monitor your water intake. Retrofit a water cooler to figure out how much water your office is consuming and when the station is running low. Update your water bubbler, here.

15. Mod your car with IoT. Connect to your car’s OBD-II Interface and collect data to analyze your driving habits. Learn more here.

16. Like coffee? Hack your coffee maker. Give your old coffee maker additional features by connecting it to a relay and controller. Get it working, here.

17. Control Roomba with Siri. The iRobot Roomba doesn’t natively support Siri, so if you’re an iPhone user, you may want this feature. Add it, in just a few steps.

Get the Full Internet of Things Project Ideas PDF (Download)

Take these IoT projects with you anywhere with our handy PDF download. Enter your email below to receive the list, and cross off projects as you complete them!

Download the IoT Projects PDF here

How to get started in IoT with Arduino

If you’re new to the Internet of Things, building IoT projects is a great way to gain skills. I recommend picking an ESP8266 development board like the Wemos D1 Mini or the NodeMCU to get started. These platforms are easier to learn and can get you set up fairly quickly.

The steps to creating an IoT device are the same as programming Arduino with one extra step. Once you complete the four steps, all you need to do is add another method to connect your controller to the Internet (your router).

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Benefits of creating IoT Project Ideas with Raspberry Pi

For those of you with more coding and electronics experience, the Raspberry Pi will provide more options as you’re building out full-fledged Smart Homes or IoT systems. Keep in mind, that just because there are more options, doesn’t mean it’s the best or appropriate option for the application.

The Raspberry Pi route will give you access to more coding languages and different home automation platforms, such as Home Assistant, MisterHouse, OpenHAB, and more.

Don’t Collect Data for the Sake of it

Every IoT project has a purpose, so figure out how you want to solve the problem or collect data and where you want to store it (online database, JSON file, etc).

While it’s tempting to collect data for the sake of having it, try to be focused on what data is most important for your application. Don’t just collect data to have data. Find meaningful ways to make sense of the data you’re collecting. Then use the data to make decisions and control other devices on your IoT network.

If you’re interested in the Internet of Things, be sure to give these projects a try. Once you set up a few of these devices, you’ll find that the process is very similar regardless of whatever application you’re trying to build.

Recommended Reading

Looking for more Internet of Things project ideas? Here are some top picks to pique your appetite.

Popular IoT Controllers

Need an IoT controller? Here are my top recommendations.

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